Strawberry Ice Cream and Ginger Beer Float with Carmel Sauce, Tapioca Pearls and Caramelized Popcorn
It is truly summer. Hot and sticky and the kitchen begins to feel like a furnace as the night wears on. So, this week I really wanted to do something to cool off and refresh. This plate is not quite as beautiful as some of the composed plates we have been doing, but the ginger beer soda with tapioca pearls (the glass on the left) was poured over the strawberry ice cream and caramel sauce (the glass in the center) at the table, which I think added some whimsy and excitement. The dish on the right contains the caramelized popcorn.
My boss was initially skeptical of this dessert (as many of you may be) because there is a lot going on and some of the flavor combinations seem odd, but she was pleasantly surprised. So, let me explain the thought process behind these components. I admit the starting point for this dish was caramelized sweetened condensed milk, dulce de leche, (see note) which we put on our cheese plate and currently are overstocked on. This is a rich, caramel sauce, so I wanted to cut the richness with something spicy and lighter. The ginger beer seemed like a nice pairing, and so originally we thought of making the dulce de leche into an ice cream, but when we tried these two things together neither of us could get past the sweetened condensed milk flavor, but we thought the flavor combination could still have merit. So, we tried it with a different caramel sauce and found it much more satisfying. The dish also needed more sweetness and some textures to keep it from being just an ice cream float. The next day all I wanted was strawberry ice cream with strawberry chunks, and, since strawberry goes with ginger, I thought that perhaps if we rearranged the dish and put the caramel sauce elsewhere that I could make it all work. The tapioca pearls were cooked in fresh ginger sugar syrup that gave them just a little bit of flavor instead of just being gummy tapioca flavored. For the caramel sauce I used the caramel sauce from our regular menu and added some soy sauce to make it nuttier and more complex. The sauce was important in giving the liquid some body because the ginger beer is lovely and effervescent but feels like water in the mouth. The caramelized popcorn was just added because I liked it. Originally I thought I could put the whole thing together in the kitchen and then stack the popcorn on the top; but when mixed, the liquids get cloudy and unattractive and the popcorn gets soggy quickly; so, it was served deconstructed.
(sorry about the picture, I forgot to take one and this one is off of the other girl’s phone which is worse then mine. Camera next week. I promise.)
NOTE: sweetened condensed milk, dulce de leche – if you take a can of sweetened condensed milk and simmer it FULLY covered in water for 2.5 hours and allow it to cool in the water for another half an hour, you can brown the milk proteins in the milk which makes a carmelish flavored thick milk substance. It is important that the can is constantly covered by water and that it is allowed to cool slowly in water because pressure changes in the can can cause it to explode